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Connections in Organisations

A frequently rather neglected reason why it is so demanding to bring about changes in organisations lies in their internal connections. In organisations, one can seldom exchange ‘parts’. Parts are self-contained and can be replaced. However, if organisational elements are only understandable (and functional) if and because they are connected to other elements in the organisation, then ‘parts’ cannot be changed on their own.

If one identifies a problem somewhere and changes something about it, then one does not know whether, how and when this change will have an effect in other areas, for example, where it will be limited and inhibited through activities there. Changes to the ‘part’, therefore, presuppose the far-reaching isolation of this element from the rest. In organisations, this is the case only to a very limited extent. Therefore, organisations must also alter the connections and dependencies of their sub-systems as well. Otherwise usually nothing changes, as the connections, links and alternating effects are so powerful that the new (part) disappears in the old (context), i.e. it is ‘fitted in’. However, little attention is paid to the re-arrangement of the connections in change projects, because it makes everything even more complex. If an organisation, though, wishes to keep up with environmental changes, it must deal with its own, internal connections.

It is no coincidence that old, tested and highly connected organisations tend to fall apart under dynamic environmental conditions and a completely new start is easier to shape.

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